DIM’S DICTIONARY OF DYNAMIC READS: Enthralling Entomology Picture Books
In honour of a brand new year that is carrying with it some woeful old worries and exasperating new concerns, I thought it might be nice to focus on something a little different and uplifting. And what better way to discover new things than in a book of words, like a dictionary, like an alphabetical listing of a collection of word books, with pictures. Ahem, so with that tenuously linked introduction out of the way, let me begin with something small and bright and beautiful: a book list about bugs!
Click on the title links to explore these books further and access ways to acquire them.
(The) Bug Collector by Alex G Griffiths
A benign visit to the museum of Wildlife with Grandad exposes young George to the wonderful world of bugs prompting him to curate a collection of his own. After much laborious effect and ingenuity, he does so but soon discovers that such fabulousness is not destined to be trapped within a bottle. A beautifully conceived and crafted picture book that will encourage youngsters to explore, observe and appreciate their natural habitat.
New Frontier Publishing, May 2019 9781925594539
Can You Find 12 Busy Bees? by Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington
A sumptuously illustrated search and find counting picture book that delves deep into the suburban (bush) garden. Insects are predominantly featured but other (feathered) Australia native species twitter and flit through the branches as well creating a lush natural playground for children to explore.
New Frontier Publising, June 2019 9781925594560
Cocoon by Aura Parker
Parker’s lavish illustrations and touching storyline make this picture book about, Dawn, a sweet little caterpillar undergoing the transformation of her life, hugely appealing. It is a beautifully colourful way of illustrating the many stages and complexities of metamorphosing that also highlights the virtues of patience, imagination, aspirations and friendship. The added look-and-find aspect incorporated is an eye-catching / eye-testing bonus.
Scholastic Press, March 2019 9781742765129
Down The Road, Little Bee by Sarah Jane Lightfoot
Little Bee begins her new year with a thirst for pollen but is uncertain where to find it in the suburban street that she calls home. She embarks on a year-long journey, enlisting the advice and directions of various other insects who guide her toward the sweetest, seasonal flowering shrubs, trees and plants in the street. This is a superbly rendered expedition of one’s local environment, encouraging kids to look more closely and think more deeply about the changing seasons and flora and insect life that are crucial to our everyday existence. It is a glorious focus on the humble but vital honey bee and includes a detailed search-and-find activity and some bonza bee facts. Highly recommended.
Affirm Press, September 2021 9781922400741
Robertson takes us on an entomological expedition of an assortment of bugs. In this rather ‘busy’ collection of fun facts and figures, kids are introduced to the life cycles and interesting insect related insights of an array of multi-legged, winged creatures each accompanied by their own page of bright bold descriptive illustrations. There is a lot going on, on every page, which should keep the keen sighted engaged for hours and quite possibly convert a few more littlies to actually, ‘love bugs’.
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, April 2020 9781526609519
Holly has a passion shared by many youngsters; she loves to dance. But what exactly do her wriggles and waggles mean? Is she trying to tell the rest of the hive something and if so what could it be? This is a divinely illustrated account of the importance of honeybees and their ways of communicating and distributing vital information to the rest of the hive through the ‘waggle dance’.
New Frontier Publishing, February 2019 9781925594492
Bright bold illustrations complement a simply storyline about differences, teamwork and forging new friendships. As in the natural world of insects, different species and people don’t always have the desire to play together let alone value each other’s differences. When these two unlikely characters are forced to work together and appreciate their oddities (or individual qualities), endless possibilities ensue.
Ford Street Publishing, October 2019 9781925804348
Bunting does again what he does so brilliantly: exploit the most seemingly benign insignificant thing and in doing so, elevates it to extreme glory. This time, it’s the humble ant under his creative magnifying glass. Through striking bold illustrations, cleverly incorporated facts and figures and crafty typesetting, Bunting’s knowledge and supreme wit radiate. One always feels a little bit more knowledgeable and a whole lot more entertained after reading one of Bunting’s picture books. Do yourself a favour and see for yourself. Oh and, viva la Ant!
Omnibus Books, February 2020 9781743834084
I love the slight departure Donaldson takes from her normal rhyming verse to retell an ugly duckling type tale about a fuzzy woolly bear caterpillar in search of her favourite food source. Along the way she encounters a garden-full of creations each more vibrant, audacious and boastful than the last which causes our little woolly bear to question her self-worth and identity until the day finally dawns on each of these moths and they discover just how magnificent she is … as a Garden Tiger Moth. This is a gloriously illustrated account of transformation, perception and self-acceptance that includes a brilliant non-fiction mini book written by a nature specialist to complement the story. If you’ve only ever thought of moths as annoying night time pests that kamikaze into open bulbs, think again. Highly recommended bedside reading.
Pan Macmillan Australia, June 2021 9781529012187